CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cleveland ranked fourth in the nation during 2020 for most dog attacks on mail carriers, the United States Postal Service said Wednesday.
The city totaled 46 dog attacks, with the nation experiencing more than 5,800 total last year. Gary Gardner, a mail carrier at the Puritas post office, was bitten by a Doberman at a residence just west of Rocky River Drive on July 9.
When Gardner came to deliver mail, a dogsitter was watching the dog owners’ Doberman and German Shepherd while the owners went camping. The two dogs are usually out on a leash in the front yard, and the owners put up a fence less than a year ago, Gardner said.
“They were inside the house, and when the dog sitter opened the front door to get something or whatever off of the porch or get ready to leash them, they just bolted right out the door,” Gardner said. “I wish she would have put them in a different room or something. It might not have happened. Put her leg in front of them, close the front door before you open the storm door type thing. That would be the sensible behavior, but not everybody thinks that way.”
The Doberman bit him in his left shin. He sought medical treatment after the bite, and he said he is feeling better.
Gardner said the dog owners are temporarily forwarding their mail to a neighbor’s due to the biting incident.
The USPS provided some tips to residents on preventing dog attacks, such as ensuring dogs are placed in a separate room and secured away when a mail carrier provides door delivery.
The USPS also advised dog owners to be mindful of their pets hanging out in their yards. If a dog is outside, it should be “properly restrained on a leash and away from where your mail carrier delivers the mail,” the USPS wrote in the release. A mail carrier may conclude that a residence isn’t safe because a dog is unrestrained, and if that happens, then mail delivery service can be interrupted, the USPS noted.
Service that’s interrupted at a specific address or neighborhood results in dog owners having to pick up their mail at the local post office.
“Service will be restored once assurance has been given that the animal will be confined during regular delivery hours,” the USPS wrote in the release.
When it comes to electric fences, dogs may not wander, but mail carriers may assume a property is animal-free if no visible physical fence exists. Because of this, postal service officials have requested dog owners keep their pets inside or restrained when the mail is delivered.
Residents who have access to postal notification features such as Informed Delivery for letter mail and package tracking are encouraged to use them to figure out when the mail carrier is on the way. In using these tracking features, dog owners can make sure they restrain their pets are ahead of time.
Erick Poston, president of the National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 40, noted how the city has slightly improved as Cleveland was ranked third in the nation for most dog attacks on mail carriers in 2016.
Poston said going forward customers need to take more responsibility in knowing when the mail carrier is around.
“It just basically it comes down to letter carrier safety, and when we look at something like dog bites, it’s totally preventable,” Poston said. “It just becomes an issue, and it’s something that’s happening every day. I have carriers saying that they are unable to deliver mail due to dogs (being) out in different places. We have dogs being sprayed. It’s something that letter carriers have to always be aware of, and it takes away from other issues.”
Gardner said people should generally be more aware and mindful about securing their dogs because others out on the street could be just as susceptible as him to a dog rushing out.
“I would say if you’re going to step out on your outside area to brace the dogs behind you as you go to open the door to open the storm door if you’re getting something off of your porch,” Gardner said. “Otherwise, have your back area for your animals to be let loose in the yard rather than out front, if that could be possible, where the mail receptacle is away from their contained area.”